New Delhi: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has published its inaugural 'Sustainability Report for FY 2021-22,' showcasing its dedication to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, said the ministry in a statement on Monday. The report, unveiled by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari encompasses NHAI's governance structure, stakeholder engagement, and initiatives related to the environment and social responsibility, it added.
NHAI's sustainability efforts have yielded positive results in terms of environmental and energy conservation, said the statement. From FY 2019-20 to 2021-22, direct emissions decreased by 18.44 percent and 9.49 percent due to reduced fuel consumption. The organisation continues to focus on reducing indirect emissions by transitioning to cleaner and greener energy sources, it added.
The report highlights a decline in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from energy consumption, operations, transport, and travel, said the statement. In FY 2020-21, there was a reduction of 9.7 percent, followed by an additional two percent decline in FY 2021-22, it added. NHAI has also achieved a substantial decrease in energy intensity, with a reduction of 37 percent in FY 2020-21 and 27 percent in FY 2021-22, while increasing the kilometres constructed during the reporting period. The widespread adoption of Electronic Toll Collection through FASTag, with over 97 percent penetration, has contributed significantly to reducing the carbon footprint.
NHAI has been actively utilising recycled materials for constructing national highways, including fly ash and plastic waste. The use of Recycled Asphalt (RAP) and Recycled Aggregates (RA) has also increased over the past three years, promoting sustainable practices in infrastructure development, said the statement. In a concerted effort to protect wildlife and mitigate man-animal conflict, NHAI has constructed more than 100 Wildlife Crossings across 20 states in the last three years, it added.
The report also emphasises NHAI's commitment to eco-friendly practices, such as planting saplings along national highways. The organisation has seen a significant increase in the number of saplings planted from 2016-17 to 2021-22, with approximately 2.74 crore saplings planted to offset vehicle emissions. NHAI collaborates with various stakeholders, including State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM), Self Help Groups, CSR partners, and NGOs, to organize plantation drives. In July 2022, NHAI conducted a nationwide plantation drive, planting around 1.1 lakh plants in a single day at 114 identified locations across the country.
In addition to sustainable development, NHAI has made strides in creating inclusive and responsible work practices. Over the past three years, the organisation has witnessed an increase in women employment and the employment of marginalised communities. Through a performance-based management system, NHAI has successfully promoted gender diversity and minority employees, resulting in a 7.4 percent increase in female hiring and an overall 3 percent increase in the workforce over three financial years.
Although the Sustainability Report is not mandated by SEBI guidelines, NHAI has voluntarily prepared it in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines. The report has undergone external assurance by a third party following International Standards on Assurance Engagements. This initiative will open doors for 'Green Finance' in infrastructure financing, as per the Ministry of Finance, Government of India's framework.
NHAI remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring economically viable, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable projects, further solidifying its reputation as an organisation dedicated to sustainable and eco-friendly practices.